Life Group Discussion Guide: Ecclesiastes 2 – Let the Good Times Roll

Sermon Overview
In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon test drives a life devoted to work, play and possessions. He uses the first person pronoun almost 40 times in the first half of the chapter, which tells us that this lifestyle choice was all about himself instead of God and others. He tries substance use, multiple relationships, large work projects, and even collects some of the finest pieces of foreign treasure. This “test” paints a picture of the lifestyle that many people choose over a life devoted to God’s ways and God’s work in the world. In the end, Solomon decides that since the pleasures don’t last forever, these things are also vain. Remember that the word behind “vanity” refers throughout the Bible to a vapor or smoke-like substance that doesn’t last for long. It has no enduring substance.
People all around us, and even many in churches, are looking for a good time. Some try to find it in substances that change their mood or deliver a short-lived high. Others are never satisfied with their relationships, so they pass through relationships in an attempt to find the right one, worried they’ll miss out on something better if they decide to commit. Still, and often more acceptably in the church, many throw themselves like workaholics into their jobs or the pursuit of more and more for themselves. Sometimes we mask our pain and anxiety by what we do. At other times, we simply do what feels good. The Bible certainly speaks to our circumstances through the book of Ecclesiastes.
God is no killjoy or spoilsport, though. Jesus lived, died and rose from death on our behalf so that we would have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). The fruit of the Spirit (or you could say, the character qualities that belong to you because you are saved) are love, joy, and other life-giving qualities (see Galatians 5:22-23). So when you think of God calling you to change, to give something up for your own good, or to take up new Spirit-led habits and practices in life, know that he is eagerly calling you to change, and he is excited for you to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:1).  Our view of possessions, of work, and of fun will only be better when we let these things be what they are – part of God’s good world that he made for his glory and for us to enjoy. These things make poor Saviors, though. Don’t get your soul tied up in what you have, where you work, or what feels good. Rather, have Jesus Christ be the keeper of your soul.
Discussion Questions
Read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
How does Solomon’s experience seem different than your life experience?
How is Solomon’s experience similar to your life experience?
Do you see in this Scripture any reflections of the values of the world that we live in?
If you could wake up tomorrow and have any one thing change about your position in life or possessions, what would you want to change? Have you talked to God about this and asked for his wisdom?
Read 1 Timothy 4:4-5 and 6:17
How should Christians relate to the good things God has made?
Have you ever gotten the idea that Christians cannot have a good time or enjoy good things? How does Scripture correct this perspective? Are there still risks involved in having many things?

Ecclesiastes 1 – All Smoke: Life Under the Sun

Ecclesiastes is an often misunderstood Old Testament book. When you hear “Old Testament,” do your best to think of those books as being as important and as helpful for you today as New Testament books, by the way.
The book of Ecclesiastes has gone through multiple interpretations by biblical experts, Hebrew Rabbis, and faithful Christians who seek to understand and apply its message. We should at least understand this book to be one man’s journey to grasp the sum and substance of life, at times apart from God’s ways and wisdom. This man – the Preacher – points us to Solomon, son of King David, who as a boy prayed for wisdom from God to know how to lead the nation he had inherited (see 1 Kings 3:1 and following). God indeed gave him wisdom beyond any who had lived before, then, or since, except for Jesus Christ (see 1 Kings 4:29 and following).
Ecclesiastes is a book that acts like a “back door” for the Christian to deal with the frustrations of life. It’s also an invitation for the curious, concerned, or critical minds to see that the Word of God really speaks to their felt and lived experiences, and offers a simple solution: accept that the world is flawed and live well in it by looking to God alone to supply what matters most – eternal hope.
Questions/Discussion Guide:
Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 and Psalm 111:10
How would you describe biblical wisdom?
How would you begin to make sense of life apart from God’s ways and wisdom if you had to?
Do you know people right now who are trying to make sense of life and the world apart from God? What would a wise Christian lifestyle say to them?
Read Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
What aspects of ordinary or routine life do you find frustrating or challenging?
Do you find that these frustrations and challenges drive you toward God? If not, how could this change?
Do you find it surprising that the Bible is so honest about life in a broken world?
Read Colossians 3:1-3

What are the “things above” that these verses refer to?

Practically speaking, what makes it difficult to think of “things above?”